During Tuesday's City Council session, Sanibel Chief of Police Bill Tomlinson delivered the annual crime statistics report, which showed a four percent increase in federally reportable crimes, a 15 percent increase of criminal violations and a 16 percent increase in theft.
However, positive trends were witnessed in a reduction of assault cases (10 percent), traffic crashes (15 percent) and burglaries (25 percent).
"I think that this (report) is generally favorable, with the exception of a slight increase in the crime rate," Tomlinson told the council. "I think that this is an extremely safe place to live."
In his memorandum to City Manager Judie Zimomra, Tomlinson provided a chart displaying the city's seven-year trend in federally reportable crimes (UCR). In 2009, Sanibel had 130 UCR's, compared to 125 in 2008. That total peaked in 2004, with 173 UCR's reported.
Comparing 2008 to 2009, burglaries dropped from 20 to 15, assaults dropped from 20 to 18 and vehicle thefts dropped from four to three. The lone category which increased during the past year was theft, which went from 81 in 2008 to 94 in 2009.
"Since 2005, the incidents of theft have steadily increased from 57 thefts in 2005 to 94 thefts in 2009," the report - dated Feb. 8, 2010 - stated. "Approximately 40 percent or 35 of the thefts occurred from vehicle in 2009; 80 percent of the thefts from vehicles were to vehicles that were unlocked and 57 percent occurred at night."
Zimomra noted that increases in crime are typical for times of economic despair, and that many of the crimes reported could easily be avoided.
"The number one precursor to crime remains people not locking their car doors and leaving their valuables in plain sight," she added.
Highlighting the report was the rate of arrested processed by the Sanibel Police Department. In 2008, 174 arrests were made on the island. Last year, 357 arrests were made, an increase of 104 percent.
Also, there was a 39 percent reduction in traffic citations issued by the department, from 1,283 citations handed out in 2008 to 782 citations last year.
"The residency of those arrested on Sanibel in 2009 remains consistent from past years, with 16 percent of those arrested were Sanibel residents, 64 percent of those arrested were from Lee County non-Sanibel, nine percent of those arrested were from other locations in Florida, and 11 percent were from all other states and countries this past year," Tomlinson's memorandum stated.
Other details noted within the report:
189 accidents in 2009; 219 accidents in 2008 (14 percent reduction)
664 ordinance violations in 2009; 394 ordinance violations in 2008 (68 percent increase)
27,041 calls for service in 2009; 32,424 calls for service in 2008 (16.6 percent reduction)
Zero incidents of robbery, rape and murder
"The Sanibel Police Department is committed to working toward keeping Sanibel a safe community to live, work and visit," the report concluded.